[OPE-L:4605] Re: Not Cricket? (fwd)

riccardo bellofior (bellofio@cisi.unito.it)
Sat, 29 Mar 1997 11:07:30 -0800 (PST)

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Alejandro R. comments:

(You refer to the
>"dual determination of the value of labor power" but this of
>course holds for all commodities, not only for labor-power).

Alejandro, I was cut out from the list and only now I see this comments of
yours. I agree with many things you say. Only two quick words (we can
discuss more in Washington) to explain where the difference may lie:

(i) I take the term law(s) of exchange from Dumenil: but *yes* I think that
the transformation is from one law of exchange to another

(ii) of course, I do not hold that commodities are simultaneously,
*actually* exchanged, at two different set of prices, but that Marx, to
analyze the *origin* of surplus value, *started* from prices proportional
to values, which means that the equivalent of the money wage is nothing but
the labour embodied in the means of consumptions bought by the workers.
Moreover, Marx started from the hypothesis that this labour embodied in the
real wage was exactly the subsistence. He was rigth to do so

(iii) the dual valuation of labour power. Qui casca l'asino: it is true for
labour power (I mean, for the working class as a whole) what is NOT true
for other commodities. Since in the Marxian macro monetary view we must
hold that the capitalist class decide the level and compoistion of output,
the real wage bought by all workers is given before exchange, and so the
residual (let me call it the profit goods). Of course, the transformation
change the labour represented in the wage: but it does not change the
necessary labour, that is the amount of labour which was needed to produce
the commodities which are bought by the workers. The divergence is only due
to the fact that the redistribution of living labour through the price
mechanism is more (or less) favourable to the firms producing wage goods
relative to the firms producing profit goods.

Conclusion: the class division of the net product is exactly represented by
the reasoning in values, though the ratio labour commanded by money
profits/labour commanded by the wage bill is different from the ratio
labour embodied in profit goods/labour embodied in wage goods.

As for comments in another letter: yes, the terminology I used needs some
fine tuning, BUT what I am saying is not changed in any sense by the fact
that labour time is represented through money. I argue that Marx had good
reasons to *start* with what Duncan calls equal exchange and *afterwards*
to go on to unequal exchange.

As for labour commanded, I simply meant that your labour-time represented
is nothing but labour commanded in exchange, since it is not labour
required to produce the commodities: I don't see a third possibility. It
cannot be Smith's labour commanded simply because there is here added
[Ricardo's] postulate that the labour commanded by money income is equal to
the labour embodied in the net product. Let us say that it is a "corrected"
Smith: corrected by Ricardo, of course [Marx's element should be the value
form element, money as general equivalent: but frankly, in the way it is
added, as inverse of the MEL, I don't see much difference from a true
Ricardian framework]. I never talked about the wage. My point is not that
the New approaches are circular as value theories, if not in the sense of a
petitio principii [that is, they take as granted that value expresses
labour, without argument]. My true point would be rather this one, relative
to Smith: that the new approaches seems to share with him the idea that
surplus value is simply a deduction from the (money) value of the product,
once wage do not exhaust the product: since Smith's labour commanded view
has been constrained by a macro [Ricardian] labour embodied view, it is of
course true that surplus value is a share of the labour embodied in the
whole product. I hold that Marx's view was quite different: not a deduction
from the value of the product, but rather an adding up i(n the labour
process as valorization process) of surplus labour to necessary labour. To
do that rigorously, Marx's needed a system of exchange ratios, and he
started from the exchange ratios valid when living labour = necessary
labour, that is, prices proportional to labour embodied.

Also my answer is very chaotic, but I hope you understand the thread.


Riccardo Bellofiore
Department of Economics
Piazza Rosate, 2
I-24129 Bergamo, Italy
e-mail: bellofio@cisi.unito.it
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